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Wednesday, May 31, 2006
I've just seen one of the most beautiful critters I've ever laid eyes on, I do believe. Right out on our beech tree is a Cecropia moth, obviously about to lay eggs. It's huge about an eight-inch wingspan. Broader than my hand is long. Never actually seen one of these live before.

(This isn't my photo, as my wife's out and has the camera with her. It's a National Park Service photo. Ours is even more colorful.) Anyway... impressive as all get-out, it is.

And time to archive The Log again...

Monday, May 29, 2006
Happy Memorial Day!

My newest column, "The High Wire," is now up at Storytellers Unplugged. Check it out here.

Also received the good news that my newest short story, "The Ghost Lens," has been accepted for Elder Signs Press's Horrors Beyond II anthology. Hooray for creepiness!

Sunday, May 28, 2006
Finished my latest short story, titled "The Ghost Lens," which is close cousin to a novel proposal I recently developed, but not quite the same thing. This tale is for a particular anthology, which I hope to see out later this year.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Peg, the missus, had shoulder surgery today removal of a nasty bone spur. She's doing fine and will be home tomorrow.

Daughter Allison decided to come down so she could stay a few days and help out while Peg's laid up. She got in late last night, after we'd gone to bed. So we got up this morning, and when I looked out the window and saw Allison's car, the first thing I thought was that my daughter had a wacky sense of humor. On closer inspection, I found that, no, she really had a dead coon stuck in the bumper of her car.

Apparently, she was going around a sharp curve, and there was yon critter in the middle of the road. She knew she hit it; she just didn't realize she was bringing it home gift-wrapped to Mom and Dad.

Kids these days...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I really rather like the young couple who lives next door to us, so it's only fitting that I occasionally have some fun with them. The gentleman, Paul, has had some health problems lately, and his wife is working overtime, so while I was out mowing the yard today, I went over and mowed theirs, just to spare them the trouble. However, when they come home tonight, they'll find the following note on their door.

Dear homeowner,

Due to various complaints from residents of your neighborhood, the City of Greensboro has established that the yard around your place of dwelling is both an eyesore and a hazard, and has employed us to mow the grass on your property. You are responsible for all fees incurred by us in this matter.

Your yard was mowed by us on Tuesday, May 23, 2006.

Please remit the amount of $150.00 payable by money order or certified check (no personal checks accepted), by 5:00 P.M. on Tuesday, May 23, 2006. Failure to comply will result in additional penalties for which you will be responsible.

Please make the amount payable to DMD Lawncare and remit it, IN PERSON ONLY, to 666 Beelzebub Ave., Greensboro, NC 27405.

Please direct any inquiries to our customer service department at (666) 555-0123.

Thank you for your prompt attention in this matter.


Lucifer Asmodeus
Proprietor, DMD Lawncare

Now I don't imagine it will take them long to figure out who is behind this, but that first few seconds or so is likely to cause heart stoppage. They're young, though. They'll survive.

Friday, May 19, 2006
The women were out for Girls' Night on the Town, so Mr. Artist Wayne Miller came round for drinks, dinner, and a movie this evening. The menu consisted of martinis, Thai chicken, and Godzilla: Final Wars. The women dissed the men, I'm led to understand, and we men did our part by bashing the women. We easily had the better case.

Thursday, May 18, 2006
The galley proofs of Evermore arrived today, and the galleys of The Nightmare Frontier came last week, so I've got a ton of proofreading to do. I've started into The Nightmare Frontier and found a few boo-boos so far, which I'm pretty sure are mine. I hate proofreading because I bloody suck at it. When I was editing Deathrealm, I'd proof every page till I couldn't see straight, and inevitably, as soon as an issue got back from press, I'd flip some pages and find a bunch of glaring typos. Ah well; getting the proofs is a good thing, as it means progress is being made. I'm hoping to see Evermore within the next couple of months.

I'd sure like to see some ordering information coming up for it. It's still not listed on Arkham House's site yet.

Monday, May 15, 2006
I'm a happy camper tonight because my contributor copies of Shivers IV, which features my story, "LZ116: Das Fliegenschloss," arrived this afternoon. It's of CD Books' usual high caliber, and includes fiction by Kealan Patrick Burke, Tim Lebbon, T. M. Wright, Ray Garton, Tim Curran, Brian Freeman, Gemma Files, Randy Chandler, John R. Little, Robert Morrish, Keith Minnion, Ed Gorman, Bill Walker, Norman Prentiss, William F. Nolan, Brian Keene, Bev Vincent, Al Sarrantonio, and Brian Hodge.

My friggin' car broke down yesterday in Martinsville, so I had to leave it overnight, drive to Greensboro to work today, go drive back up this evening to pick up my car, and come back home tonight. So I'm tired of driving. Water pump and vacuum hose were shot, which ran a couple of hundred bucks to fix. At least it wasn't the transmission (whew).

Saturday, May 13, 2006
I've just spent the last four hours wandering what I call Fugue Devil Woods.

Some of you have read my story, "Fugue Devil." It's based on the most intense night horror I ever had as a child (I was about 12 at the time), and to this day, I remember every detail of it more clearly than I remember most waking memories. In the dream, that devil-critter haunted these woods, which surround my mom's house, and nowadays, I still find them a bit magical, for my own personal reasons. They're not very large; maybe a dozen or so acres that create a buffer between a couple of residential streets in this old neighborhood. In the spring and summer, though, when everything's in full bloom, it feels like a great big wilderness because you can't see the houses that, in reality, aren't very far away. Today, I found all kinds of old relics from my childhood mostly the burned-out shells of my little brother's toys because, back then, whenever I determined that he had outgrown his stuff, I conducted experiments in pyrotechnical special effects with them. Today, I built myself a little campfire, but I didn't burn anyone's possessions. Maybe next time.

If you'll forgive the indulgence, I'm going to relate here the original dream that is certainly one of the most significant events in my development as a writer. If you've read "Fugue Devil," perhaps some of the incidents herein will sound familiar.

Back to summer 1971, there or abouts...

The dream opened on a beautiful summer afternoon, with my friends Bob Cox and Chuck Neely and I playing in Cox's yard, just down the street from my house. I noticed something moving in the sky, and looking up, I saw an amorphous black shape zig-zagging rapidly across the sky, trailing black smoke. I asked what on earth it was, and in an excited voice, Chuck told me it was the "real" Tazmanian Devil, which was nothing like the Bugs Bunny cartoon character. If you saw it and you were the last person to turn away from it, you would be marked for death.

Well, guess who was the last person to turn away.

In the next scene, I was in my backyard with my little brother (who would have been about 6 or 7 at the time) and my dad, who was grilling out steaks a frequent weekend activity at the time. My dad went into the house, and I heard something moving up on the wooded hillside behind the house. Out from the trees came this huge dog that resembled a bluish-gray greyhound only this one was the size of a horse. Then, from behind it came a ten-foot-tall thing, which had the ridged, scaled body of the Creature from the Black Lagoon (colored bluish-gray, the same as the dog); the wolf-like head of the demon from Curse of the Demon; and huge golden wings that resembled King Ghidorah's, from Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster. The beast looked down at me and grinned.

I woke up, shivering and in a cold sweat something that I have never experienced at any other time in my 47 years. It took me quite a while to go back to sleep, and when I did, the dream took up pretty much where it left off.

The sun had just gone down, and my little brother and I were home alone. He realized he had left some toys of his down on the driveway and wanted to go after them. I told him not to because I knew the Tazmanian Devil was out there somewhere. But I could not convince him to stay inside, so I went out to the back deck to watch over him as he went down to get his toys (for all I know, these were the same ones whose remnants I found up in the woods today). He had just picked them up and was on his way back up the stairs when I heard something moving in the woods. The back porchlight shone only a short distance into the trees, but it revealed something coming out of the woods, and I realized that it was the huge dog. Then, again, behind the dog, the Devil appeared, but this time its scaled body was bright green. (If any of you ever had the Aurora model of the Creature From the Black Lagoon way back when, well, that was its exact color.)

Again, the demon looked right at me, and again, I woke up in a cold sweat, crying my young eyes out. It was now about 4:00 A.M., and I tried like hell to stay awake till daylight but didn't quite make it.

When I went back to sleep, the dream took up yet again. This time, I was at my friend Bob Cox's house, believing I might be safe if the critter didn't know where to look for me, and we were hiding out in his upstairs bedroom. For a long time, nothing happened, and I could see the sky just beginning to brighten outside his window. But then something crashed downstairs, and after a few minutes, I could hear heavy footsteps down below. They started coming up the stairs to the bedroom, and I realized we were trapped because there was no other way out. The door burst open, and there was the Tazmanian Devil, having to crouch to get in through the door because it was so tall. Now its body was a fiery, blood red, and it grinned real big as it reached out to get me.

That's when I woke up, and dawn was just beginning to brighten the sky. I didn't go back to sleep again.

I wrote the story, "Fugue Devil," in 1991, some 20 years after the dream. The theme of the story diverges radically from the dream itself, but the creature's main appearances are all there. Even here and now, I can recall every vivid moment of the nightmare. You do dream in color, I can tell you, because the various colors to which its body changed were quite brilliant. Needless to say, because the creature came out of the woods (which adjoin Bob Cox's house as well), at age 12, I looked upon them with a certain amount of fear for quite some time. And nowadays, while I consider these woods one of the most friendly, beautiful, and welcoming places on earth, they hold a special, somewhat dark place in my heart largely because of that dream. Because the hills and valleys the woods occupy are very steep, and they're in an area between residential streets, there's virtually no chance of them ever being developed thank God. I think losing them would be like losing a family member.

Thanks to the notorious horror writer Jack Kincaid, the very last available copy I have of my Fugue Devil collection has been sold. However, the story, "Fugue Devil" (and its sequel, which is also based on a damn near equally frightening dream I had in 1994) appears in my collection The Last Trumpet, which is still readily available. I would be thrilled if any of you were to pick it up, and I'd love to hear any comments you might have on "Fugue Devil" (either yay or nay) itself. To this day, I think it's my favorite of my tales.

And pardon my long blathering I usually hate reading about other people's dreams but being here on a day so much like when I had the original dream and spending time in those woods has really put me back in the old scary mood. I hope it was good for you too. Now it's back to writing my current spooky tale "The Ghost Lens." If all goes according to plan, you may actually be seeing it in print in the not-too-distant future.

The old homestead.

Sunday, May 7, 2006
Got together with my brother Phred and his girlfriend Golda Fried this evening. Went out for Thai food and ate entirely too much.

Golda is herself a writer, with an award-winning novel titled Nelcott Is My Darling. A sweet young woman with a great sense of humor. How she came to hang with my brother Phred is one of those mysteries of the 21st century that may never be solved. However, they're a hoot together and I hope they're happier than shit on a pile of horseflies.

Saturday, May 6, 2006
The Book of Dark Wisdom magazine, issue #9, has arrived, which features my short story collaboraton with Durant Haire, "The Terror From Middle Island." Yay!

Kick-ass cover by Stephen Gilberts, no? There's also fiction by Scott Nicholson, Jay Caselberg, Gord Rollo, Brett A. Savory, Simon Wood, Alfred Taylor, Marie Brennan, Darren Speegle, Ian Rogers, and James S. Dorr; an interview with A. A. Attanasio; "Writer at Large" by Richard A. Lupoff; and pottery by Wesley Lambert, Lee Clark Zumpe, Kevin L. Donihe, Eric Hermanson, and G.O. Clark.

Buy this sucker. (Clicking on the magazine cover will take you to the Book of Dark Wisdom Web site.)

Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Having finished Bill Trotter's massive Warrener's Beastie, I wrote a review of it for Amazon, but since mine is an ARC, there's no review section available for it yet. So, I will post said review here, until such time as space is made on Amazon, where it shall be promptly entered.

Warrener's Beastie
By William R. Trotter
Carroll & Graf, 2006
686 pages
ISBN 0-78671-328-3

Warrener's Beastie is a big, big book that feels a bit too big, particularly in the beginning, as events start very early in the characters' lives, and we get to know each in microscopic detail (and the original was even longer, prior to substantial editing by the author). While it all seems a bit tedious at first, as the tale progresses, Trotter's strategy begins to reveal itself, and the reasons for focusing on early, formative events in the characters' lives become clear. The novel details the lifelong journey of Allen Warrener, who moves from precocious child to cynical, middle-aged college professor through a series of experiences that are themselves the definition of irony. Early on, Warrener experiences certain mystical events that shape the direction of his life, while on a parallel track, seemingly unrelated mystical currents sweep up a young woman named Karen Hambly; inevitably, these paths converge along with those of several other individuals and their collective goal becomes the quest to find the cryptozoological holy grail: a fabled thing known only as the Vardinoy Monster, which haunts the North Atlantic near the Faeroe Islands. The "Vardinoy Expedition" at first seems a grand, enthralling adventure. But as always, nothing is quite what it seems, and events take more than a few unexpected turns.

Trotter builds tension slowly before unleashing salvos of dramatic set pieces, each piece upping the ante on its way to the climax. The tight, intricately-developed framework of the early chapters, which have the distinct flavor of "literary fiction," gives way to the gritty, thrilling action of the classic pulps, and the incongruous blend is almost jarring. However, despite a few rough edges that sometimes threaten to derail the train, Trotter holds the beast together, if sometimes just barely. The weakest link tends to be the dialogue, which occasionally lapses into sheer cuteness, and a few anachronisms and/or vagaries of time that may be a result of the book having been developed over a number of years. (The most jarring is perhaps a quote to the effect that "no one noticed that the sixties had slipped by until some nerd murdered John Lennon"; since Lennon was killed in 1980, the elimination of the 70s altogether seems rather brutal.)

While its flaws sometimes loom a little larger than niggling things, in the overall, Warrener's Beastie is a more-than-engaging ride, full of poignant, emotional depth and grandeur a spectacle worthy of Hollywood at its best (hint hint).

Five beers out of six.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Well, it's another birthday, the 47th this time. I've been ill with this respiratory bug since the weekend, though, so I haven't done diddly besides sleep and read for the last couple of days. Feeling a wee bit better tonight, so I reckon I'll be going to work tomorrow.

Got lots of nice birthday wishes and a few goodies, so it hasn't been unpleasant, despite feeling icky. I did hear from John Pelan that he was quite taken with "Contact," so I hope we'll be seeing that one appear in Cthulhian Singularity in the not-too-distant future.

Back to resting.

Sunday, April 30, 2006
I'm a little late with this, but my latest Storytellers Unplugged essay went up yesterday. If you haven't checked it out yet, you can find it here: The Short of It.

I was in Martinsville, Virginia, again this weekend, this time dogsitting while my mom was out of town. Last night, we had some old friends, Joe, Suzie, and Sam Albanese, over  for dinner and drinks at Mom's house. It was my specialty Thai beef, which turned out a little on the good side. I put tiki torches around the afterdeck, which was quite beautiful, given the wooded setting and very clear night.

I was fortunate enough not to eat any crawlies this weekend (referencing this.) However, after dinner we did go spider-hunting. Yeah, no kidding. If you have any wooded areas around you, you can probably do it too. After it gets plenty dark, hold a flashlight up to your forehead and shine it at the ground around the edge of the woods. The beam will catch the eyes of all these spiders that have their webs down on the ground, and the result is rather startling. Lots and lots of little glowing emeralds all around, looking at you, staring at you, trying real hard to give you the creeps. It's actually kind of pretty, all these little glowing spider eyes...

Fun, wot?

On the bad side, I seem to have developed a rather hideous respiratory bug. Am feeling utterly miserable today, unable to breathe, and coughing my fool head off. In fact, if you see my head rolling around somewhere, please email me so I might come and collect it.

Friday, April 28, 2006
Dave Wilson has given me the "Five Questions" treatment in his Live Journal. It's a bunch of carrying on about my fiction, Deathrealm, Cthulhu, and all such dark things. You may check it out here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Just finished up my short story collaboration with John Pelan, which is titled "Contact." It's a genuine SF/Horror tale with all kinds of Cthulhuvian trappings. Great fun to write, and the arrangement worked out well: John pretty much plotted it, I pretty much wrote it. It's almost more of a ghost-writing venture for me than a true collab, but what the heck. Anyway, sent it off to him tonight, and we'll see what happens from there.

Monday, April 24, 2006
I've returned home from RavenCon in Richmond, VA, which was not a major event by any stretch, but was in general a good time and a fine opportunity for socializing with friends, some old, some new. I got to spend some quality time with Gina (Ivy Cole and the Moon) Farago, Glenn and Terry (Bloodthirsty Weasels) Bane,  Beth Massie, Cortney Skinner, Elizabeth Blue, Sarah Schoenfeld, and Mark and Tanya Sieber, which was about as fine a crowd as anyone would want to run into. I was on several panels, most of which were well-run and well-attended, and though book sales were anything but brisk, I got to promote my upcoming work fairly heavily.

Saturday afternoon and evening was the highlight of the weekend, when Beth B., Sarah, and the Siebers came down to my "Koffee Klatsche," which was held in the hotel restaurant. We lit right into the drinks and some heavy philosophical discussion (which mostly boiled down to the fact that we are all Brian Keene's puppets), and determined that the next big thing in horror will be known as "Anatomy Horror." However, in order to "get it," you pretty much have to be at a convention and under the influence. Most entertainingly, it became very clear early on that Sarah S. is the devil incarnate.

The con was very well run by Tony Ruggerio and Tee Morris, so hat's off to them. They were far more professional than the Richmond Airport Doubletree hotel itself, which often left something to be desired, particularly in the restaurant service department. To be fair, the room was excellent and the staff otherwise very cordial. Assuming RavenCon becomes a regular event, I could probably be cajoled into returning in the future.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Ack! I've been alerted to the fact that there's a technical error in my story, "Sky of Thunder, Island of Blood," on Amazon Shorts. It's one of those dastardly details that I must have read over a hundred times without catching (as did my editor, apparently). Most readers probably will never notice, but in context, the passage in the tale is 180 freaking degrees off.

Here's the deal. You check out the story from Amazon Shorts (it's only 49; just click on the cover photo on the right to order it), and if you're the first person to contact me (just use the email button in the lefthand frame) identifying the error, I'll send you a free, autographed copy of The Lebo Coven a $25.95 value.

I'll give you one hint, and one hint only: the error is in the description of the performance of one of the aircraft involved in the tale. Note: members of the Damned flight sim squadron may not participate, since it was one of them who discovered the error.  So there.

Sunday, April 16, 2006
Spent Easter weekend at my mom's in Virginia. Quite nice; wife, daughter, and brother all present. Lots of quality family time. Got lots of writing done. Took some pics.  And you know what else?

My brother and I are taking a nice hike through the woods. And yep, you guessed it ANOTHER FREAKING BUG FLEW STRAIGHT INTO MY MOUTH. Ack! Gack! Ptui! WHAT THE &#$%&?! (If you don't know about eating bugs, read Thursday's entry, below.) I don't know what the critter was; something big, black, and fuzzy. A bit of a hickory flavor, with a touch of vinegar.

Anyway, here's the scary Damned family mug shot:

Mr. Damned Rodan      Damned Allison Rodan      Mrs. Damned Rodan

Thursday, April 13, 2006
I tend to be a little naive sometimes, thinking that sitting here at my computer I am not all that likely to interact with bored and/or inquisitive life forms of the multi-legged variety.

So I'm sitting here typing, and a big (BIG) yellowjacket waltzes out from under my keyboard, apparently having become annoyed with the repetitive thumping going on overhead. Well, s-o-r-r-y, I don't recall having issued an invitation. I just hope she doesn't have friends who like to hide in places where my fingers habitually congregate. Happily, I made this little visitor flat before the stinger could engage, but she did look disturbingly enthusiastic about giving it a try.

Oh, you think that's the end of it? Well, our daughter Allison comes home this afternoon for the Easter weekend, and as I go out to greet her, a slightly smaller winged beast a honeybee, by the looks of it veers from its course (which was perpendicular to mine) and at high speed comes barreling right into my open mouth. Ptui! Again, fortunately, no stinger action, and the bee ends up a masticated pile of ruin on the driveway. While you might expect a honeybee to taste like, well, honey, it was nothing of the sort. More a tangy citrus flavor, with perhaps a hint of Dijon mustard. And my tongue was completely numb for almost half an hour. Go figure.

Wait. On the way to dinner (Thai), I get out of the car, open my goddamn mouth again (you'd think I might know better), and a horsefly comes buzzing in. This one bounces harmlessly off my teeth before it can reach the cavernous gullet and buzzes away, perhaps annoyed, maybe even a little miffed. But me I have by now begun to feel distinctly uncharitable in regard to oral-cavity exploring, keyboard-hiding, exoskeletoned organisms.

Ever get that feeling that bugs are crawling all over you? It's kinda like that right now, as I'm sitting here listening to crickets and the like right outside my window...

Tuesday,  April 11, 2006
Today marks the fifth anniversary of my dad's death. Hard to conceive it's been that long; I clearly recall every detail of those last months the grief; the frustration and anger over his lingering, completely incapacitated, for so long; the strange relief when he actually passed on. It was complications from severe diabetes that did it to him; most of the nerves in his body just died over time, until everything pretty much shut down. I've always hated funerals, but Dad's was in some ways an almost joyous event for me, mainly because it brought so many people together who'd cared deeply for him over many years. I should be so lucky to be that well-remembered by those who've known me when my time comes.

Fun days at Calloway Gardens, Georgia, 1965. The little ugly one is my brother Phed. I'm the larger, slightly less ugly one.

Thinking about all those relationships, Dad's kind nature, his firm belief in right and wrong, the way he dealt with people both personally and really makes me want to emulate the way he lived his life. I expect he taught me, as an adult, every bit as much as he did when I was a kid. He wasn't a perfect fellow by any stretch, but he came pretty damn close pretty damn often; he was a true role model, and when I look around me now, I see so few that I consider worthy that I know just how blessed I was. I wouldn't trade a day of the time I had with him for anything, ever.

Sunday, April 9, 2006
Mrs. DR and I just got back from an excellent trip to Hertford, NC, where we stayed the weekend at Stately Wilson Manor, home of writers David Niall Wilson and Trish Macomber and their brood of young 'uns. We ate a lot, drank a lot, watched entertaining movies (Kung Fu Hustle and Seed of Chucky, the latter of which was far more fun than I would have expected...or perhaps it was just the company we were keeping), and a spot of grave robbing. What, you don't think so? Well, lookit:

What do you mean real grave robbers don't do it in daylight? Well, we had to do it in daylight to, uh, take the picture, yeah, that's it.

My short story, "Sky of Thunder, Island of Blood" has just been posted at Amazon Shorts. It's yours for only 49; once purchased, the story is yours permanently, to be downloaded to your computer (in html or pdf format) or saved in your locker. An unbeatable bargain for the price! Please do check it out here.

Monday, April 3, 2006
Received a mock-up of the cover art for The Nightmare Frontier from Chad Savage today, and holy wowzer, it's a grabber. Try not to crap yer drawers.


Sunday, April 2, 2006
I really detest the switch to Daylight Savings Time; somehow, losing that hour seems more significant than it really is. I end up feeling discombobulated for a week.

Received interview questions for Meat Grinder Press (nice title, eh!) today, so I sat down and did the whole thing in one swell foop. Some entertaining questions on this one, so I hope it'll be a fun read when it hits the streets. Leading off with a Godzilla question is never a bad thing.

Did a little Web site updating today too, mostly rearranging the book covers to add Evermore and fixing up the "coming attractions" a wee bit.

Saturday, April 1, 2006
I've sold my story, "The Devils of Tuckahoe Gorge," to Dark Discoveries magazine, which is one of the sharpest-looking fiction magazines on the market, edited by James Beach. The story will be appearing in the Summer issue, I believe, along with an interview with yours truly and very possibly an Alan Clark illustration. "Devils" is an older story that was originally published in the (very) late Midnight Zoo magazine, but this version has been altered to the point of being a completely different tale (The Log, December 1329, 2005). I think she's a pretty creepy one.

Also received a nice blurb from Tom Piccirilli for Blue Devil Island. It's up on my promo page. Now, he may be April Fooling me, but neither of us will ever tell.'s time for the bimonthly archiving of The Log...

The Log Archive
February/March 2006
January 2006
December 2005
October/November 2005

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